Welcome to Little Car in the Big City, where I highlight fascinating cars I found walking around a town that is known for being bigger than everything else, but where every car is fighting to stand out: New York, New York.
I remember the first time I saw a Volkswagen Karmann Ghia. Well, I don't remember the day/month/year it was, but I remember the car. It was a faded red, parked on the side of a residential street in the neighborhood where I grew up, looking just sort of lost and forlorn. Unlike this sky-blue example, which is clearly nothing but a goddamn stunner.
It's hard not to be a stunner, though, when your bodywork is designed by Italian style house Ghia, slapped together by German coachbuilder Karmann, and all engineered by Volkswagen on the guts of a Beetle. If that all sounds like a bit of a mish-mash, that's because it is, but this is one of the few times the ingredients all add up to a greater whole.
Over 400,000 of these "Type 14s" were produced, so they're not exactly rare, though the vulgar numbers it sold in was a triumph of style over substance. The Beetle was an economy car, and the Karmann Ghia was basically the same thing with a pretty body. And we all know Volkswagen would never ever do such a thing again. The two combined essentially made up the world's slowest sports car, but most didn't seem to care.
And can you blame them? That body has aged fantastically in a way that few other cars can claim, and the fact that this particular model is a 1969 is a bit mind-blowing when you consider that cars like the Camaro SS were stomping through neighborhoods at the same time.
We've seen essentially the same car, just in hardtop form, in cities before, but it never seems to get old. My only question about the Karmann Ghia is whether or not you can make a Baja version of it?
Sacrilege, I know, but with so many made, I don't think you're hurting anyone.